Page URL:

Northern Ireland Assembly motion calls for end to IVF 'discrimination'

26 March 2012
Appeared in BioNews 650

Couples in Northern Ireland claim they are being discriminated against as they are only offered one cycle of IVF treatment on the NHS. This is in comparison to the two or three available in the rest of the UK.

The Northern Ireland Assembly has approved a motion calling on the health minister to fund three cycles of IVF treatment for couples struggling to become pregnant.

It is estimated that only one in five couples conceive in the first cycle, which in 2004 led to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommending that three cycles should be provided.

Health Minister, Mr Edwin Poots, has said he is unable to commit to offering the recommended three cycles of IVF because of funding limitations. With each round costing £3,500, increasing the number of cycles provided on the NHS 'could severely limit the number of women who could access the service'.

In Scotland three cycles are available on the NHS, and in Wales two cycles are offered. In England, it varies.

Conall McDevitt, of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, said this is an issue that 'goes to the heart of equality legislation which affects couples seeking to become parents and who are being discriminated against in this region relative to other parts of the United Kingdom', warning that Northern Ireland will 'further fall behind the standards of IVF treatment provided in other member states of the EU and further fall behind many other parts of the United Kingdom' if action isn't taken.

Sharon Seymour, who suffered 14 miscarriages, and had to fight for a second round of IVF, believes it should be more widely available. She told UTV (Ulster television): 'Everybody that wants to be a parent has the right to be a parent and have a family. No ministers should stand in their way'.

Couples 'face IVF discrimination'
Belfast Telegraph |  20 March 2012
NI Assembly motion calls for three IVF cycles
BBC News |  20 March 2012
Northern Ireland Assembly
BBC Democracy Live |  20 March 2012
Women call for further IVF treatment
UTV |  20 March 2012
20 May 2013 - by Ruth Retassie 
The Scottish government has approved criteria which include new restrictions on access to state-funded IVF but which also aim to end the 'postcode lottery' faced by many couples with fertility problems...
28 August 2012 - by Jessica Ware 
A Northern Irish fertility clinic has protested against a regulatory notice which could mean it may have to stop accepting new patients....
28 May 2012 - by Mark Johnson 
From next year, local GP-led Clinical Commissioning Groups will take on the commissioning responsibilities of Primary Care Trusts, with the latter due to be abolished in April 2013. This now includes responsibility for commissioning fertility services such as IVF treatment...
13 June 2011 - by Gareth Johnson MP 
IVF is one of Britain's greatest inventions. Professor Robert Edwards received the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his pioneering work developing this fertility treatment and - in the last week - it has been announced that he will be knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours list. The result of Professor Edward's work was Louise Brown, the world's first so-called 'test tube' baby. Britain, more than any other country, should be championing the use of IVF treatment...
6 December 2010 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
Northern Ireland's High Court of Justice has rejected a claim for damages brought by two children born as a result of IVF treatment provided to their mother which resulted in them being of different skin colour than intended...
30 March 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens 
The UK government has announced an extra £1.5 million to help improve access to fertility services in Northern Ireland. It is estimated that 600 people join waiting lists for fertility treatment in Northern Ireland every year. It is hoped the extra funding will help reduce waiting times...
30 June 2008 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
Only nine out of 151 primary care trusts (PCTs) in England are funding the recommended three cycles of IVF for infertile couples, according to the UK Department of Health. The latest figures reveal that despite guidance issued over four years ago, four trusts are still offering...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.